The former lead singer of Smash Mouth, Steve Harwell, has died after he was admitted to hospice care suffering from the end stages of liver failure brought on by years of alcohol abuse. He was 56.
TMZ reported Sunday the All Star singer was “on his deathbed … and his family is saying their goodbyes.”
Soon after, news of Harwell’s death broke and was confirmed by the band’s manager, Robert Hayes.
“Steve Harwell passed away this morning September 4, 2023 at his home in Boise Idaho,” Hayes said in a statement to Postmedia Monday morning. “He was surrounded by family and friends and passed peacefully and comfortably.”
In his message, Hayes called Harwell “a true American original” and “a larger than life character who shot up into the sky like a Roman candle.”
“Steve should be remembered for his unwavering focus and impassioned determination to reach the heights of pop stardom. And the fact that he achieved this near-impossible goal with very limited musical experience makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. His only tools were his irrepressible charm and charisma, his fearlessly reckless ambition, and his king-size cajones. Steve lived a 100% full-throttle life. Burning brightly across the universe before burning out. Good night Heevo Veev. Rest in peace knowing you aimed for the stars, and magically hit your target.”
The news of Harwell’s death comes two years after he retired from public life following a bizarre outburst at a show in upstate New York that went viral on TikTok.
“Steve has been dealing with long-term medical issues over the last eight years and during his last performance at the Big Sip stage, he suffered numerous symptoms directly linked with his current medical situation,” Harwell’s rep told the New York Post after the incident in which the singer was filmed flashing a Nazi salute and heard cursing out fans. “As of today, Steve will be retiring from Smash Mouth to focus on his physical and mental health.”
“Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rock star, performing in front of sold-out arenas and have been so fortunate to live out that dream,” Harwell said in a statement following his meltdown. “To my bandmates, it’s been an honour performing with you all these years and I can’t think of anyone else I would have rather gone on this wild journey with.
“To our loyal and amazing fans, thank you, all of this was possible because of you. I’ve tried so hard to power through my physical and mental health issues and to play in front of you one last time, but I just wasn’t able to. I am so grateful to each and every one of you who has helped Smash Mouth sell over 10 million albums worldwide, put us on top of radio charts and those who have kept All Star relevant as one of the top memes on the internet today,” he continued.
Harwell ended his message on a positive note, adding: “I cannot wait to see what Smash Mouth accomplishes next and am looking forward to counting myself as one of the band’s newest fans.”
At the time, Harwell’s reps said he had been suffering from eight years stemming from cardiomyopathy, which was diagnosed in 2013. He also had been stricken by heart failure and acute Wernicke encephalopathy, with the latter condition impacting his speech and memory.
“Despite Steve’s best efforts to work through these ailments, he is heartbroken to share that it has become impossible for him to continue doing what he loves most, performing in front of the band’s millions of fans around the world,” his spokesperson said.
“This TikTok video is not an accurate representation of the man Steve is. Steve had every intention of successfully continuing in the band but will be retiring to concentrate on his serious health issues,” an insider told the Post after the viral video led to his departure from the Grammy-nominated band.
“Steve has been retired from Smash Mouth for two years now, and the band continues to tour with new vocalist Zach Goode,” Hayes added in his statement to Postmedia. “That said, Steve’s legacy will live on through the music … Steve’s iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform.”
Hayes continued: “With Steve, Smash Mouth has sold over 10 Million albums worldwide-wide and topped the charts with two #1 hit singles, five Top 40 singles, three Hot 100 singles, four Billboard 200 albums and a Grammy nomination not to mention the hundreds of film and television placements and of course those musical features in Shrek … He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him.”
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